Student athletes learn bike handling skills, race rules and other technical aspects of mountain bike riding and racing within the current NICA coaching curriculum, They are also learning soft skills, such as empathy, communication skills, and self control. But how do you teach these positive character skills?
Coach Bill Welsh, Armstrong Cycle Club, adds a segment to his practices called 'Prop Time'. During this time, he identifies a rider who demonstrated traits of strong character and then presents the rider with a character skill sticker.
This time is not meant to reward a rider with a prize, but it opens up space for reflection and conversation for all riders.
Learn how to add this technique (the prop time and the stickers) into your practices. Let's get started.
Review the seven character skills below. There is no particular order.
This is how Coach Welsh integrates the use of the character stickers into his practices:
- Instruct each ride group to finish their route and be back 15 min before practice ends.
- Gather the team together.
- Hold “Prop Time”. with your skill stickers ready.
- Allow everyone to call out a rider, or a coach. Make sure, others participate in identifying the skills; including the riders themselves.
- Hand out a sticker that shows the skill recognized to the rider.
- Give a big "Well done" to the rider!
Remember, this is not about winning - the sticker should not be viewed as a prize.
Instead, the sticker should be used as tools that open up space during practice for conversation.
MAKE YOUR OWN STICKERS
- Download the 2019 MN League Character Stickers
- Download and order a sticker template from Avery. (Avery 2.25" diameter round stickers or equivalent)
Share your Story
Use this link to Share your Story with Coach Welsh and let him know how the stickers are working with your team!
Seven Core Character Skills
WHAT IS IT? Positive Self Concept is a realistic awareness of oneself and one’s abilities which reflects an understanding of his/her strengths and potential, and therefor is a positive..
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT? An individual’s belief about their ability to cause something to happen determines their behavior.
- REALISTIC understanding of their potential and limitations
- Allows kids to believe in themselves & take risk and grow
- An idea of the self - constructed from the beliefs one holds about oneself and the responses of others – it includes perceptions, body image, aspirations for
- the future, past experiences as part of its construct.
- Self image – How you see yourself
- Self Esteem – How much do you value yourself
- Idealized Self – What do you wish you were
WHAT IS IT? One’s ability to control and regulate oneself.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT? The ability to control impulses, delay gratification, focus attention, regulate and modulate emotions and behaviors is important for all parts of life. It allows youth to avoid risky behaviors and avoid violence.
- Control Impulses
- Delay Gratification
- Direct & Focus Attention
- Risk Seeking
- Anger Management
- Emotional Regulation
- Actions & Consequences
- Intimate Partner Violence
WHAT IS IT? The ability to identify an issue and take in information from multiple sources to evaluate options in order to reach a reasonable conclusion.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT? This skill asks kids to engage in complex problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making.
- Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
WHAT IS IT? The ability to feel and understand what someone else is feeling.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT? Learning requires vulnerability and courage to fail.
- Cognitive Empathy – Seeing another’s perspective
- Affective Empathy – The ability to share in another’s emotional state
- Courage & Vulnerability – It takes risk to learn & grow.
- Shaming – The fear of being separated from a person or group of people that is important to an individual.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT? Adults often talk too much to kids and do not listen. Communication is between people. Listening is an important skill that allows relationships to happen.
- Listening is part of communication
- It is impossible to coach without listening.
- Includes Social Media
GUIDED LEARNING: Allows you to communicate with integrity and empathy because it places value on the opinions & experiences of the athlete. It protects their worthiness.
- Includes body language, eye movements, gestures, etc…
- Guided Learning is Key for Coaches – and good for kids
- Silence is a critical tool for teaching – use it.
- Healthy, positive, supportive communication that always protects the worthiness of other people should always be encouraged – for kids and coaches.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT? Educational and career aspirations, expectations about ones future, planning skills
- Closely tied to Positive Self Concept since it is tied to what a kids beliefs about their abilities for achievement in the future.
- Having goals mitigates one’s desire to be impulsive and to take unnecessary risk.
- Goals teach about consequences, focus, and determination In youth development, reaching goals is not as important as setting them and practicing working toward them. Practicing how to not achieve goals is important.